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Ignite Rural Business finals Thursday night
Five contestants vie for prize money

Great Bend Economic Development Inc. will hold the finals for its Ignite Rural Business competition at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Crest Theater in downtown Great Bend. This is the program where entrepreneurs with new businesses or great ideas were encouraged to enter and compete for a portion of the $95,000 to be awarded during this week’s event.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Thursday via GBED’s Ignite Rural Business website, or at the door Thursday night.

In addition to the $50,000 first prize, there’s a second-place prize of $30,000 and a third-place prize of $10,000. And those following along the journey of the competition will vote online for the People’s Choice Award and award a business with $5,000.

The competition started with over 20 entries and the entrepreneurs have gone through four rounds focused on helping them work through their business ideas to help them thrive, said GBED President Sara Arnberger. “While there were many wonderful ideas, the committee was able to narrow it down to the top five business contestants, all of which would be a wonderful addition to our county business landscape.”

Each contestant was paired with a local business mentor, received coaching and had help with business planning.

Now, these five finalists have a chance to make a pitch to a jury consisting of a live audience Thursday night. 

Arnberger said the prize money is coming from funds generated through the Network Kansas tax credits. GBED has enough funding to hold the event again next year, but they hope to make this an annual effort.

The finalists include:

• 10-39 Cafe – Chance and Brittney Bailey, and Jarret and Audrey Mermis.

The idea for the 10-39 Cafe was born when the local Magneto repair shop became available. The owners, who are equal partners, recognized the need for a local restaurant and knew they had the perfect person to run it! 10-39 is code for lights and siren, so 10-39 Café seemed like the perfect name since all partners are involved in law enforcement, Fire or EMS. 

While the partners all own other businesses, including Two Chicks and Some Old Bird, JM Builders and several Airbnbs, 10-39 Café is unique in that in will not only serve as a much-needed restaurant, it will also be giving back a portion of all proceeds to local first response agencies, and developing a scholarship for persons interested in serving in those professions.

• Greystone – Rob and Andrea Bauer, and Matt and Dena Hiss.

For nearly 10 years, the partners have dreamed of revitalizing the historic Masonic Lodge in downtown Great Bend. They’ve dreamed of putting the building back into service to host the special celebrations and milestone events that bring our community together. After a persistent pursuit of this dream, they proudly introduce Greystone, a private event space.

All of the Greystone partners were born and raised in Great Bend, returning home after college and career experiences to raise their families. Matt is a financial planner and owner of Legacy Financial, where Dena also works as the marketing officer. Rob is an attorney at Bauer Pike Law, and Andrea is the public information director for USD 428. Collectively, they  processes the expertise to oversee a project of this scale, while leaning on the skills of architects and vendors to bring the project to life.

• Hatchet Axtion – Sage Cauley and Johan Sanchez.

Hatchet Axtion is Great Bend’s Axe Throwing venue offering private lanes with a reservation, or walk-ins are welcome. Located in the downtown district, Hatchet Axtion is evolving into an experience-based entertainment venue.

Sanchez and Cauley are both owners of Hatchet Axtion running the day-to-day operations. Cauley is a student getting his bachelor’s degree in computer science at Kansas State University. Sanchez is a supervisor at Waters Hardware. In Johan’s free time, he likes working on his cars and spending time with his family. In Sage’s free time, he likes to go mountain bike riding, gravel bike riding, and doing 3D printing projects.

• Manase Turf – Raza Manase and Kevin Manase.

Kevin is an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is the founder of Ligence, a startup consultancy firm. A graduate of Great Bend High School, Barton Community College and at Kansas State University, he majored in computer engineering with an entrepreneurship minor. 

He is always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, playing soccer and hiking. He is also an avid reader and loves to learn new things.

Raza is a self-made man with a bachelor’s degree in finance. MANASES Enterprises LLC, a managing company with four divisions: CPS Home & Garden, Manases EcoBlast, Jack The Handyman and Manases Turf in the USA.

In his spare time, Raza enjoys camping and fishing with his family. He is also a passionate volunteer who helps out at local charities. Raza is a man of many talents and interests, and he is always looking for new ways to make a difference in the world. 

• Rühe Spa – Danielle Lee.

Lee is a passionate massage therapist with over seven years of experience in the field. Her journey started in her hometown, Ness City, and led her to Wichita where she received her associate’s degree in massage therapy. It’s been an incredible ride, and she’s had the privilege of working in various settings, from chiropractic clinics to serene spas and even bustling gym environments.

She resides in Great Bend, where she lives with her two boys and husband. Her dedication to enhancing well-being through the art of massage has always driven her. She’s taken her expertise from spa sanctuaries to gym floors, always striving to bring relaxation and healing to her clients. She encourages everyone to embark on a journey to wellness with Rühe Day Spa.